Repost from Atlantic District

HACKENSACK, N.J. — The first Atlantic Affiliate championship of the 2023-2024 season was awarded Sunday morning to the Palmyra Black Knights 12U AAA who edged out the New Jersey Colonials in a 2-0 game that kept everyone on the edge of their seat until the final buzzer. Back and forth, goal line to goal line, the competitive game was locked out 1-0 for the majority of the game.

The Colonials headed into the game with a lot of confidence. They earned their bid to the championship matchup following a win over the Black Knights during the round robin stage Saturday. “I feel good. I think we’ve got a good shot to win,” said Colonials forward Chris Migliaro, who scored against the Knights in that 4-3 victory. “A couple of weekends ago, they beat us twice. We were able to win today, so this is our opportunity to beat them twice too.” 

Meanwhile, the Black Knights’ sideline was undeterred, despite falling to the Colonials just minutes before. “I think we can win if we play our game,” said Black Knights defenseman Luke Spittler. 

On Sunday, the time for talk was over, as both teams took the ice for the title matchup. A defensive struggle in the first period set the tone for the game, as neither team could put anything on the scoreboard. The Colonials maintained a slight advantage in shots, managing 10 to the Black Knights’ seven. In the second period, a Colonials hooking penalty gave Palmyra the edge they needed to finally break through, as Callan Pearson sent one streaking past the Colonials goalie to give the Black Knights a 1-0 lead. 

From there, it was on Palmyra goalie Mason Ecenrode to deliver his team the win, as the Colonials became increasingly persistent to equalize the game. When the Black Knights picked up an ill-advised cross-checking penalty with just over two minutes remaining in the third period, the Colonials realized that the ensuing power play was their best chance to tie things up. They peppered Ecenrode with a barrage of shots, racking up 14 shots in the third period alone, but Eceonrode turned them all away. “I was just trying to stay in my head — just trying to focus on the game and tune everything else out,” Ecenrode said of those frantic final minutes. “It was a full team effort.” He made a series of terrific rejections, including one particularly impressive save where he snagged the puck out of the air while falling backwards.

Thanks in large part to Ecenrode’s heroics, the Black Knights were able to kill the power play, and the Colonials were forced to pull their goalie for a final push. From there, the Black Knights stole the puck and Braden Boblick buried a long-range bomb to put the game out of reach at 2-0. Forty-five seconds later, the Palmyra Black Knights were the Tier-I 12U AAA champions.